Mercedes brightens up the CLS

AFP
First Published: 10:16 IST(19/6/2014)
Last Updated: 12:41 IST(20/6/2014)
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The company has made a host of subtle design and major technological tweaks -- including a potentially revolutionary new headlamp system -- to what most consider its best-looking car.

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When the original CLS first hit the streets 10 years ago, it was something a bit different from the usual executive car fare for which the company is famous. It was more stylized, individual and dynamic than pretty much anything else that Mercedes was offering at the time; it was a huge hit and spawned a host of imitators from the company's closest rivals.

And the reason it looked so good, despite being essentially nothing more than a premium family sedan or wagon, is because it was the work of one designer who was trying to imagine what a Jaguar would look like if Mercedes had bought the company.

Conscious of the fact that pulling the car too firmly into the Mercedes family fold would dilute its appeal, the new facelifted model has been very subtly altered externally, with lines smoothed and tucked rather than completely redrawn. So no major changes to the overall shape, but a new front bumper, grille finish and headlights.

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Intelligent lighting

But what headlights they are. It may seem difficult for even the biggest automotive enthusiast to get excited about the way in which a particular vehicle illuminates the route ahead, but nevertheless, these lights are pretty bright, as in smart.

They're linked to stereoscopic cameras that constantly scan the road looking for things to highlight in the high beam or for situations when the lights should be dimmed, such as when a car passes traveling in the opposite direction.

The lights themselves are actually made up of 24 LED projectors, each of which can be adjusted for brightness (there over 200 brightness settings!) and direction independently so different areas of the route ahead can be illuminated at different intensities. As such, Mercedes claims that they -- and not the lasers being used by Audi and BMW -- are the future.

Clearer satellite imagery

Inside, the subtle changes continue. The most notable changes are the disappearance of the gearstick and the addition of a new 8-inch touch screen. The former has gone because a 9-speed paddle operated automatic box is now standard across the range (excluding AMG versions), and the latter is there to simply access a host of new safety and infotainment features including graphics-laden navigation programs that use NASA satellite imagery for the clearest possible visual representation of the journey ahead.

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The car will be making its official debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in the UK on June 26 and will be going on sale this autumn. However, there is some bad news for British, Japanese and Australian buyers. The sportiest CLS63 AMG 4Matic version, complete with all-wheel drive and 577bhp on tap, has only been engineered for left-hand-drive markets.

Those that prefer their steering wheel on the right will have to make do with a rear-wheel drive version of the CL63AMG with a twin turbo V8 that is detuned to deliver just 549bhp.


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